Local News

Burbidge: Pope's resignation 'very humbling'

Posted February 13, 2013

Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh

— The spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Raleigh says he was stunned when he turned on his computer Monday morning to find that Pope Benedict XVI is resigning at the end of the month.

"It was very shocking," Bishop Michael Burbidge, of the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, said Wednesday. "It's been 600 years since we've heard of such an announcement, so I was caught off guard."

Benedict, 85, said he is resigning because he lacks the strength to handle the duties of the papacy – "a decision of great importance for the life of the church."

Burbidge was on vacation when he and the rest of the world found out about Benedict's decision. He spoke with reporters Wednesday morning before he led an Ash Wednesday Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral in downtown Raleigh.

"I think the reaction and, certainly, my thoughts are that what Benedict is doing is very noble and very humbling, and he's doing it for the good of the church," Burbidge said. "He's reached that point where he believes his age and his condition does not allow him to serve most effectively."

The Vatican has insisted no serious medical ailment was behind Benedict's decision, though it admitted for the first time on Tuesday that Benedict had a pacemaker installed years before he was elected in 2005 and recently had it replaced.

The pontiff presided over Ash Wednesday services Wednesday, and he received a standing ovation when he arrived for his traditional catechism lesson. His speech was interrupted repeatedly by applause, and many in the audience of thousands had tears in their eyes.

He repeated in Italian what he had told his cardinals Monday in Latin: that he simply didn't have the strength to continue.

"As you know, I have decided to renounce the ministry that the Lord gave to me on April 19, 2005," he said to applause. "I did this in full liberty for the good of the church."

Benedict's resignation sets the stage for a conclave by mid-March to elect a new pope.

The Vatican has made it clear that Benedict will play no role in the election of his successor, and once retired, he will be fully retired. He plans to live a life of prayer in a converted monastery on the far northern edge of the Vatican gardens.

"We await a new leader, a new successor to Saint Peter, so that will impact every Catholic throughout the world," Burbidge said. "So, we await that, knowing ultimately it's God's choice, prompted by the Holy Spirit."


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  • superman Feb 14, 2013

    I guess the new pope will be his oldest son. Isnt that passed down in the family.

  • Scubagirl Feb 14, 2013

    @ Relic, thanks,

  • Typical WRAL Commenter Feb 14, 2013

    Popin' ain't easy.

  • Wiser_now Feb 14, 2013

    @Relic "I can disagree without hating."

    Thank you for this.

  • Viewer Feb 14, 2013

    Live worldwide TV coverage makes it hard to hide the fact that the Pope is losing his vigor.

  • djofraleigh Feb 14, 2013

    Not a Catholic, but I admire the Pope for doing this rather than limping along, doing less than the best, and doing himself harm.

  • Relic Feb 14, 2013

    "How much did the recently released documentary have to do with his resignation? I wonder, as do many others."

    Scubagirl, I'd say very little. I have watched the Pope preside over several major mass celebrations from both St. Peter's and St. John's churches in Rome. He has visibly gotten physically frailer, weaker and unable to move about without great effort in the last six months or so. The last event at St. Peters that was broadcast on EWTN he was so weak that he could hardly be heard saying the Mass even with a microphone and sound system. What will be hard for the College of Cardinals to do is to elect a new Pope that has not in some way been affected by the worldwide "pedopriests" scandals or who will have the force to look at the "princes of the church" and say "ENOUGH".

  • Relic Feb 14, 2013

    "We need a new man in a silly hat to tell us how much we're supposed to hate gay people."

    What, like the leaders of Islam? Oh...sorry...wrong men in silly hats. I'm not a Catholic but I do follow both the Catholic and Orthodox Church news as they relate both to today and to the Church's roles in Western and Eastern European civilization. Neither Pope John Paul II or Benedict XVI have ever advocated "hating" gays or lesbians. They have stated that homosexuality is not a lifestyle in conformance with Christian teaching and it is a sin. They both also spoke about addressing the needs of persons with AIDS and in the GLB community as Christians should, with "agape" love, grace and mercy. Protestant churches, even those that do not support GL marriages or the ordination of GLB clergy have the same guidelines for their congregations. I can disagree without hating.

  • wildpig777 Feb 14, 2013

    February 13, 2013 6:01 p.m.


    I pray that he receives our global support for all that he has done. I challenge anyone to handle his normal day. Throw the first stone so to speak.- dad

    well he does claim to have resigned fron the nazi youth party i think, but i'm not sure. and i think he formally apaologized on behalf of the catholic church for the murder and torture and robbery of the all Jews-- yes i believe i am correct in this.

    and i think he has tried to offer apology for the support of widespread pedofilia which is rapant in the catholic church-- yes i think i am correct in this.

    i wont address the moral an spiritual issues of this as wral would not allow this blog to be posted.

  • Typical WRAL Commenter Feb 14, 2013

    We need a new man in a silly hat to tell us how much we're supposed to hate gay people.